So last night, I used my new Masterbuilt Butterball Deep Fryer
for the first time with oil. I had used it previously with water and made a delightful Low Country Boil with shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn and Old Bay seasoning. This time, I was cooking a 5# whole chicken.
I seasoned the chicken with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper the night before, but did so with some skepticism. I figured that once I dropped that bird into the oil, those seasonings would just boil away. I'm pretty sure that's what most of them did.
The manual warns you not to use an extension cord with the fryer, so I found a plug on the end of the peninsula in our kitchen and plugged the beast into that. I put 2 1/2 gallons of corn oil into it and started it up, preheating to 350.
|A promising start!|
About halfway through the heating process, a GFI somewhere along the line blew and the outlet went dead. A quick search didn't reveal the culprit, so I switched to a different outlet, but that required the use of an outdoor extension cord. That was a bad idea.
I looked up the specs this morning and this monster puts out 1,650 Watts of heat. That means it draws 15 Amps. That's a lot of electrons sprinting through the wires. When I unplugged the extension cord after cooking last night, it was hot to the touch, particularly at the connections, but also all along its length. We threw the cord away and won't be doing that again.
Back to the cooking. Once the oil hit 350, we dropped the bird into its bathwater using the handy basket that came with the cooker. As an aside, this is a really nice unit. All of the components are well-made and fit together perfectly.
A 5# chicken, fresh from the fridge, brings a lot of cold with it. I would bet that the oil dropped 50-75 degrees immediately. Throughout the 20-minute cooking process, the oil never returned to 350, as indicated by the heating light being lit the whole time. Fiddling with the thermostat and watching where the heating light went off, it looked like it got back to about 325.
3 1/2 minutes per pound of chicken was the consensus on the Internet, but I was suspicious of that when it was obvious the oil wasn't returning to 350. I gave it 4 minutes per pound before pulling it out. Again, the fryer is so well-designed that pulling the basket out is easy and safe. It has hooks on the side that latch onto the top rim of the frying pot, allowing you to drain your food right inside the unit. Wonderful!
|That looks done, doesn't it?|
My meat thermometer said the chicken was at 175 or so and I figured the oil had done its job. Wrong. When we cut into the meat, parts were done to perfection and parts will still bloody and red. We were able to get enough cooked meat off of it for 3 people, but it clearly needed more time in the oil.
For all of that, the properly-cooked portions were fantastic. The skin was crispy and the flesh was so moist that it was practically dense with juices. I was too distracted by the undercooked parts to notice if any of the seasonings on the skin survived.
First, preheat the oil past your cooking temperature. After you drop your food into the oil, turn the thermostat down to what you really wanted. The food is going to cool the oil, possibly significantly if its got a lot of mass like a chicken or if its really cold like something frozen, so you might as well prepare for that. It's not like an extra 25 degrees at the start is going to burn anything.
Find a circuit rated for 20 Amps and turn off everything else attached to it. The fryer uses power like the Death Star preparing to blast Alderaan to rubble. The lights are going to dim and the GFIs are going to trip if you're not ready for it.
Don't use an extension cord! That was sucker was really hot to the touch by the end. Usually, the safety warnings on products can be ignored as they're written with naughty children in mind, but in this case they were right on the money.
Buy your oil in a 2 1/2 gallon container. You can reuse the oil with a little bit of filtering and you might as well prepare for that by getting a container that fits the whole batch. The fryer is equipped with a really handy drain plug which makes recycling the oil a breeze.
All in all, I'd definitely do it again. Cooking was easy and safe, even given my bungling with the power source. The results were excellent. With a second try, I think I'd be able to concentrate more on the taste of the food than on what I needed to improve.